Another night at the ballpark, another trophy ball for a collection that is compounding at a rate far better than any bank offers.
Friday night, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel collected his 40th save, pitching a scoreless ninth against Miami and passing a milestone that he has turned into a routine. He is the first closer in Major League history with 40 or more saves in each of his first four seasons.
“Not many guys have had the opportunity I had in the first year of my career,” the Braves closer said, adding a bit of perspective.
Regardless of Kimbrel’s laid-back attitude about his various accomplishments — “I don’t take it half-heartedly, but at the same time I feel like it’s something I’m supposed to do” — he’s not exactly tossing the baseball away at the end of the night when he’s done with it. His little piece of history is hardly disposable.
“The authenticator got it,” Kimbrel said of the ball from Friday’s save. A Major League representative is on hand every game to put his stamp on various game-used items. And he has been particularly busy with the Kimbrel Collection — not with just the ball from his 155th career save that broke John Smoltz’s franchise record, or the latest No. 40. But every ball from every save.
“We’re holding on to them now; I don’t know what we’re going to do with them,” Kimbrel said. “Maybe auction some of them for charity at some point.”
He is on pace to saturate the market for such relics long before he is through producing them.